Burlington City Council chooses a Burlington Telecom buyer

Published: Nov. 27, 2017 at 12:07 PM EST
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After months of debate, Queen City leaders have picked a Burlington Telecom buyer.

At 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, City Council members chose a joint partnership between Schurz Communications and ZRF Partners during a final round of voting.

During a break at the meeting, ZRF and Schurz decided to flip their bid, making Schurz the primary owner and ZRF an investor in the cable and internet provider.

This changed the $25 million offer to nearly $31 million.

Schurz beat Keep BT Local eight votes to two votes, with two councilors choosing not to cast votes.

Ting's $32 million proposal was eliminated during the first round of voting.

"We’ve been struggling to get to some solution for many, many months now, and while some may be surprised at this, I think it’s the logical evolution of all the work the council has been doing," said Jane Knodell, the Council president.

Knodell says the next step is for the mayor to authorize a letter of intent with Schurz.

The city has to sell Burlington Telecom as part of a settlement with Citibank and local investor Trey Pecor.

During former mayor Bob Kiss's administration, many were shocked when $17 million of taxpayer money was put toward the company to keep it running.

The FCC’s recent proposal to scale back internet rules sparked discussion about the bidders’ views on net neutrality.

"We are committed," said Faisal Nisar, with ZRF Partners. "It’s a very clear position. Privacy should be respected, and all traffic should be treated the same."

At the last vote, the Council was deadlocked between Ting and Keep BT Local, so it invited back ZRF and Schurz Communications, the two semi-finalists who were passed over earlier this fall.

Mayor Miro Weinberger's office says the city has easily spent tens of thousands of dollars in staff time trying to figure out a new buyer.